By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY
LONGPORT – The holiday weekend got off to a lively start in normally laid-back Longport. At 11 a.m. Saturday morning, a troupe of local residents welcomed Longport visitors to be their guest with a pop-up crosswalk musical performance of “Beauty and the Beast.”
Longtime resident Doug Farrell and a cast of characters brought the hit Broadway play and award-winning Disney children’s movie to the stage, well, to the crosswalk at the only traffic light in Longport.
The production was a take on “The Late Show” host James Corden’s riotous comedic musicals performed on the crosswalks of some of the busiest intersections in Los Angeles. In the Longport version, pedestrians, cyclists and runners, stopped for a few minutes to watch the production, which was delivered in synchrony with the traffic light signalization.
Farrell was the Beast and Barbara Wilson was Belle in the production, songs of which were performed only when the traffic light turned red. Between numbers, which included, “Be Our Guest,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Belle,” “Gaston,” and “Evermore,” the actors returned to the sidewalk in front of Longport Beach Patrol Headquarters to allow traffic to flow.
Spectators provided loving support for the actors by applauding at the end of each song, and they even went a step further by quieting motorists honking their horns. In the distance, you could hear police sirens getting closer, but instead of stopping the performance, the police cruisers made a quick left turn to respond to an emergency a block away, and the production continued.
“We hope everyone enjoyed our hard work and diligence in preparing our first-rate production,” Farrell was quoted as saying in the playbill. “No other city or town in all of South Jersey can boast such a production.”
It is the second crosswalk musical produced by the retired dentist and singer, who has now made Longport his permanent home. Farrell produced “The Sound of Music” at the same intersection in August 2020.
Gaston was played by Chris Paul; Lumiere, Maureen Farrell; Mrs. Potts, Joann Gahr; Chip, Maggie Farrell; Cogsworth, Mary Beth Appel; LeFou, Peter Finnegan; and Maurice, Mary Tracy.
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